‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ review: A mangled mess, in more ways than one

The show suffers from all-round unlikeable characters that one is unable to care for, and a weak central mystery

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), following a year after Scream, was largely responsible for the revival of the slasher film genre. Written by Kevin Williamson, who also wrote Scream, the film was an adaptation of Lois Duncan’s eponymous 1973 book. Duncan, incidentally, was quite horrified at her novel being turned into a slasher film.

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I Know What You Did Last Summer tells the story of four teenagers played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., who hide their involvement in a hit-and-run fatality, only to have a killer stalk them a year later.

The movie is fun and has aged tolerably well—the boxy computers and slow internet searches being charming reminders of a past when life was not so hectic. That the film fuelled sequels, spoofs and headlines are other reasons to remember it fondly.

With the film coming out over 25 years ago and the book almost 50, a case can be made for a reboot. Does Sara Goodman’s adaptation work? Aye, there is the rub. Setting the show in Hawaii gives the necessary trouble-in-paradise vibe. Young digital natives on the cusp of being adults and figuring out who they are — all the while under the unblinking gaze of social media — could have been an interesting anthropological experiment.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 8
  • Creator: Sara Goodman
  • Starring: Madison Iseman, Bill Heck, Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore, Sebastian Amoruso, Fiona Rene, Cassie Beck, Brooke Bloom
  • Storyline: A group of friends are stalked by a killer after a graduation party goes horribly wrong

While it sounds good on paper, it does not translate well on-screen. The show suffers from all-round unlikeable characters that one is unable to care for, and a weak central mystery. People seem to drop dead mainly because no one seems to know what to do with them, which is hardly the way to create a thrilling show one is invested in.

Rivalrous twins (Madison Iseman), unreliable parents (Bill Heck, Cassie Beck, Sonya Balmores, Danielle Delaunay, Chrissie Fit), dreamy boy with a secret (Ezekiel Goodman), millionaire influencers with eating disorders (Brianne Tju), cool drug dealer (Ashley Moore), gay best friend (Sebastian Amoruso), sexy cop (Fiona Rene), and a local witch (Brooke Bloom) are in all sorts of trouble on the beautiful island of Wai Huna.

An accident on graduation day and attempts to cover it up, tears apart the lives of a group of friends, who speak in their particular teen argot with much ‘sus’ and ‘legit’ thrown about. A year later when they return for the holidays, there is a killer on the prowl wanting to serve the naughty teens their just desserts.

This must be the first show where the killer reveals all during the credits. Forget Marvel’s mid and post-credit fun sequences, even after listening to the killer’s reasoning, one would be hard-pressed to make sense of the mangled mess.

The big twist in the end paves the way for the mandatory sequel; the bigger question however is do we really want to know what happens to all the uninteresting, unpleasant people of sunny, sandy surfy Wai Huna?

I Know What You Did Last Summer is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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